Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.

Is "erwachte" in the imperfect tense here? And why is it at the end of the first clause? I thought verbs go at the end for dependent clauses but isn't the second clause the dependent one because it adds information to the first one?

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes. "erwachte" is imperfect (präteritum) tense.

  2. The part before the comma is the dependent clause. It starts with the conjunction "als", and as you said, the predicate (verb) is at the end. This has nothing to do with their order. It's the same in english:

When Gregor awoke one morning [...], he found himself morphed [...]

The "when" clause is the dependent clause.

Have fun with your further reading of Kafka...

  • Thanks, so why is "verwandelt" at the end of the second clause if it is an independent clause?
    – Hh94
    Nov 11, 2020 at 12:05
  • 2
    Because it is just a participle. The whole predicate of the sentence is "fand sich verwandelt", which is split up, as German speakers love to do. Much like "Er hat auf German SE am Dienstag eine Frage gestellt, nachdem er schon am Montag eine andere Frage gestellt hatte"
    – HalvarF
    Nov 11, 2020 at 12:17
  • Actually the verb is only "fand sich" in this case, and the two adverbial complements "[zu Ungeziefer] verwandelt" (modal) and "i[n seine]m Bett" (local) can be used in arbitrary order (depending on what the author wants to emphasise eventually).
    – Dirk
    Nov 15, 2020 at 23:22
  • @Dirk; you can "actually" see it that way. I see it as a multi-part predicate, because "fand sich" alone has quite a different meaning than "fand sich" as part of "fand sich verwandelt"."Verwandelt" is more than just a modal adverb here.
    – HalvarF
    Nov 16, 2020 at 9:05

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